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San Salvador Pan-American Open – Valois-Fortier and Roberge triumph in Salvador

Montréal, June 15, 2014 – Quebecers Antoine Valois-Fortier and Catherine Roberge both won gold medals, Sunday, at the Pan-American Open presented in San Salvador, Salvador. The Ontarian Kelita Zupancic, as well as Quebecers Zachary Burt and Ana Laura Portuondo Isasi, also made their way onto the podium.

Antoine Valois-Fortier was crowned champion in the under 81 kg class. He began his day with victories over the Brazilian Gustavo Assis and the American Joshua White. He would then go on to defeat his teammate Zachary Burt, before finally winning gold against the Argentine Emmanuel Lucenti in the grand finale.

“When I saw the draw I felt like I would be able to come away with a win this weekend. Of course that added some pressure because I would have been disappointed if I’d lost, but in the end everything went well. I’m really happy because it’s my first gold medal in a world cup tournament,” Valois-Fortier pointed out.

“My first two matches took less than two minutes, which was excellent for me. The finale was definitely my toughest bout. I’d already been beaten by this opponent at the Olympic Games. I was a little slow to react early on in the contest, and I got scored on. From that point on, though, I really turned it around, and managed to force four penalties,” he added.

In the same category, Burt came away with one of the two available bronze medals, claimed at the hands of his teammate Scott McGrandle. To attain the semifinal, Burt took down the Brazilian Ricardo Serrao and the American Jonathan Fernandez.

McGrandle got off to a good start with a win over the Mexican Jonathan Espadas but succumbed to defeat in his second bout against the Austrian Marcel Ott. His victory in the repechage versus the Mexican German Ayala would put him into one of the two bronze medal fights, where he would fall to Burt.

Making her mark in the under 78 kg division, Catherine Roberge also won gold for Canada. After being a handed a first round bye, she took down the Mexican Miriam Gonzalez. In the semifinals, she managed to beat her fellow Quebecer Ana Laura Portuondo Isasi, and followed that up with a win against the American Kayla Harrison in the finale.

“It was an excellent day for me. In my first match, the Mexican gave me a bit of difficulty because she’s quite flexible and has a unique judo style, but I finally was able to beat her. After that, Ana Laura gave me a tough match. She’s a future champion, but I’m more experienced than her and I really wanted to win. It was a quick bout, I took her down on the ground and won pretty rapidly,” Roberge explained.

“In the grand finale, I beat the defending Olympic champion. She hadn’t lost a single fight since being crowned in London. I’m really happy to have beaten her. I won with a waza-ari. Last week I was leading by a waza-ari, got a little nonchalant and let a bronze medal slip away. This time around I had better focus, and did a much better job of controlling the match right till the end,” she said.

After her loss in the semifinals, Portuondo Isasi managed to come away with one of the two bronze medals up for grabs, beating the Guatemalan Mirla Nolberto Labriel. Benefitting from a bye early on, she also defeated the Ecuadorian Diana Chala.

As for Kelita Zupancic, she would leave Salvador with a medal of her own after winning silver in the under 70 kg class. After being handed a first round bye, she took down the Luxembourger Lynn Mossong and the Brazilian Barbara Timo. She would eventually come up short in the gold medal match, falling to the Austrian Bernadette Graf.

Also at under 70 kg, Monika Burgess lost to the Brazilian Barbara Timo, thus failing in her bid for one of the two available bronze medals. Earlier in the day she had taken down the Mexican Andrea Poo, fallen to the Austrian Bernadette Graf, and then had come back with a win over teammate Alix Renaud-Roy in the repechage.

The loss versus Burgess meant a 7th place classification for Renaud-Roy. The Quebecer had previously beaten the Guatemalan Jennifer Ortiz and lost to the Israeli Lior Wildikan.

Finally, in the under 90 kg category, the British Columbian Brandon Jobb succumbed to defeat in his very first bout against the Brazilian Eduardo Silva.

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Written by Sportcom for Judo Canada